Why Konrad Mizzi might cost Chris Fearne the Labour leadership

When the health baton was passed on to Chris Fearne, he had to face the music for something done, in the dark, by his disgraced predecessor

Konrad Mizzi might Chris Fearne's life-long ambition of become the next Labour Party leader
Konrad Mizzi might Chris Fearne's life-long ambition of become the next Labour Party leader

It is no secret that Chris Fearne wants to become the next Labour Party leader, and Prime Minister. His appointment as deputy Prime Minister is a step in that direction. But things have become slightly complicated for the health minister. Konrad Mizzi might ruin his life-long ambition.

First the Vitals deal – the reason why Fearne might miss the boat. He’s currently under fire from the doctors and other healthcare professionals – and taxpayers, for failing to do what is right: scrap the Konrad Mizzi-Vitals deal.

And before Government trolls hit the keyboards in defence of their employer, I must state the obvious: Private healthcare investors are not new to Malta. They’ve been here for years. And health tourism is a lucrative area, which needs to be enhanced. So there’s nothing wrong with the Government trying to lure more of their types to Malta.

What’s wrong and scandalous, but unfortunately lost on Government trolls, is the deal agreed between Konrad Mizzi and the Vitals Global Healthcare which left the medical profession and Maltese citizens in the dark.

Fearne painted himself into a corner because of his inability to do the right thing: scrap the Vitals deal

When the health baton was passed on to Chris Fearne, he had to face the music for something done, in the dark, by his disgraced predecessor.

Fearne, who is known for his no-nonsense approach, should have put a stop to it. If the deputy prime minister wants to secure Labour’s top post, he must show leadership. To the delight of his rivals for Labour’s top post, he did not. My impression is that MEP Miriam Dalli, minister Ian Borg, and MP Robert Abela have run a mile from the Mizzi-Vitals agreement. They know that there will come a time when close association to Konrad Mizzi and the current Castille clique, will drastically decrease their chances of securing the top post.

Fearne painted himself into a corner because of his inability to do the right thing: scrap the Vitals deal, return the three State hospitals to their rightful owners – the people of Malta – and, if need be, look out for investors of repute with a sound track record in the field.

For the Vitals deal looks shady, and stinks horribly. The conditions which the Vitals team – the identity of whom Government refuses to divulge – come to enjoy are beneficial to them but not to us, the taxpayers.

In November 2015, the contract was signed and Konrad Mizzi gave the hospitals away for 30 years (in the case of St Luke’s, it’s 99 years). According to the Mizzi-Vitals deal, the Government was to pay €70 million for each of the 30 years from our taxes, which means that the mysterious owners of the Vitals group would be pocketing more than €2 billion in total.

When Vitals defaulted on the agreement, they sold their contract (for an undisclosed price) with Konrad Mizzi to Steward Healthcare, an American health company. Coincidentally, it was sold just 10 days before a new EU Directive would have made it compulsory for the names of the sellers to be divulged.

It is a deal which was too good to be true for VGH, but disastrous for the people of Malta. Not only were they handed three State hospitals on a silver platter, but they failed to honour the agreement, and after a mere 22 months at the ‘helm’ of the state hospitals they forwarded their ownership to American businessmen.

Chris Fearne now tells us that once the agreement, between Vitals and Steward Health Care, is agreed upon, signed and sealed he shall do us the honour of informing us of its content. Pull the other one, Fearne. If you want to come clean, show us its content now.

It is screamingly obvious that Mizzi has the Prime Minister’s backing, and no amount of internal pressure shall persuade the big boss to scrap what Mizzi agreed on our behalf, without our permission.

Mizzi’s Vitals agreement robbed the people of three State hospitals. But it might have also robbed Fearne of his chances to take the helm of the Labour Party when Joseph Muscat calls it a day. If that happens, he has only himself to blame. He’s still in time, though. Miriam Dalli, Ian Borg and Robert Abela are watching. So are the Labour Party delegates and, needless to say, the people of Malta who want their hospitals and their money back.

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